General Education Committee


Explanation of the Requirements

In Spring 2005, University Senate passed a new general education writing requirement, which becomes effective Fall 2007. Under the new requirement, incoming freshmen and transfer students who have not completed a 36-credit hour general education core at a regionally accredited institution will be required to earn 12 credits of approved Communication (C) category credits. Of these credits, nine will be in writing: English 110, English 120, and an upper-division writing class.

Under the new guidelines, students with composite ACT scores of 21 or higher will be encouraged to register for English 120. Students who complete English 120 with a C or higher will receive credit for English 110 with a passing grade (P).

Therefore, the majority of NDSU students will take English 120 as their first writing course, followed by an upper-division writing course designated by their major department. However, ENGL 110 needs to be retained in program curricula because it is included in the 12 credit Communication category requirement, and because not all students will qualify to begin in ENGL 120. Important: ENGL 110 is NOT considered remedial.

Action Requested

Although this is a general education requirement, it is expected that all degree programs incorporate this requirement into their program curricula by specifying an acceptable upper-division writing class for their students. This will ensure that all students satisfy an upper-division writing course as part of their degree program at NDSU. Because the requirement takes effect in fall 2007, departments must now indicate the upper-division writing option(s) best suited for their curricula and students. We ask that curriculum guides be clearly marked with the course identified to meet this requirement.

Meeting the Requirements

A General Education approved upper-division writing course must meet the following criteria:

  • have English 120 as a prerequisite
  • be offered at the 300- or 400-level
  • carry at least three credits
  • have a relatively small student cap (22 is highly recommended)
  • require at least three writing assignments
  • require production of at least 15 pages of text or appropriate alternative in another medium
  • provide opportunities for students to revise their work.

There are three ways for departments to meet this curricular requirement:

  1. By incorporating one of the following upper-division English courses, which carry General Education communication (C) credits:
    • English 320: Business and Professional Communication
    • English 321: Writing in the Technical Professions
    • English 322: Creative Writing I
    • English 323: Creative Writing II
    • English 324: Writing in the Sciences
    • English 325: Writing in the Health Professions
    • English 326: Writing in the Design Professions
    • English 357: Visual Language and Culture
    • English 358: Writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences
    • English 459: Researching and Writing Grants and Proposals

  2. By developing and teaching within the department a new course that meets the above criteria for upper-division writing courses. Such courses also need to go through the normal route for new courses and General Education (C category) approval.

  3. By identifying an existing course in the department’s curriculum that has a heavy writing component, and with possible revision, could meet the criteria for upper-level writing approved for General Education communication (C) category credits. (This course may not be a program’s capstone course.) Such a course also needs to go through the channels for General Education approval and renewal.

Procedures for developing and submitting courses to meet this upper-division writing requirement are on the Undergraduate Center for Writers web site:

Questions about this process may be directed to one of the following:

  • Elizabeth Birmingham, English Department Chair, 322F Minard, 231.6587, 
  • Bruce Maylath, Director of Upper-Division Writing, 318E20 Minard, 231.7176

Questions about General Education requirements/policy may be directed to:

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